The Best Fig Cake Recipe, Fit for Every Occasion

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Picture this: a golden-hued cake, delicately speckled with bits of tender figs, and their syrupy sweetness woven into every bite. That’s what you can expect with this fresh fig cake recipe. It stands as a delightful testament to California’s abundant fig production.

Be sure to check out our latest fig appetizer: baked feta recipe and our handy guide on how to freeze figs!

Baked Feta with Figs and Honey
Looking for a go-to solution for an uncomplicated yet impressive appetizer? Discover the ease of our sweet and savory, baked feta recipe with honey and figs!
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Slice of fig cake on small white plate.

As we dive into how to create your own delicious cake at home, it’s worth noting that California proudly wears the crown as the leading producer of commercially grown figs in the United States. The golden state contributes a staggering 98% of the nation’s commercial fig production and 100% of its dried fig production.

This article highlights the gorgeous fig in one of the many delicious fig recipes that you can expect from us. 

California Figs: Mother Nature’s Candy

California’s unique climate, characterized by sun-soaked days and cool, refreshing nights, provides an idyllic setting for fig trees to thrive. The golden state’s fertile valleys, particularly those in the Central Valley region, host vast expanses of fig orchards where these honeyed gems flourish.

Fig Season

Fresh fig season in California starts in late June through through early fall, presenting the world with plump, fresh fruit that’s both flavorful and versatile. This is when they reach their peak.

Fig varieties such as the Black Mission fig, Brown Turkey fig, Calimyrna fig, and Kadota fig thrive here, each bringing its unique flavor and texture to the table. It’s no wonder California boasts such a remarkable share in the commercial fig market in the United States.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Below, are the ingredients that you’ll want to have on before making your delicious recipe. Hint: Take your butter, buttermilk and eggs out of the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan on making this cake. Doing this will allow ample time for them to come to room temperature.

Ingredients for making fig cake.
  • All-purpose Flour: High-quality all-purpose flour serves as the backbone, contributing to the cake’s tender crumb.
  • Baking Soda: This essential ingredient guarantees the cake rising to perfection.
  • Salt: To create balance.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter adds richness and enhances the cake’s texture.
  • Granulated Sugar: Granulated (white) sugar balances the figs’ sweetness while ensuring a moist and tender cake.
  • Eggs: Eggs act as binders, contributing to the cake’s structure and delightful texture.
  • Vanilla Extract: A touch of pure vanilla extract elevates the cake’s aroma and depth of flavor.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk adds moisture to the cake, ensuring it stays moist and doesn’t become dry.
  • Chopped Fresh Figs: The star of the show, ripe California figs. You can use black mission figs or any other favorite variety. Their natural sweetness and texture infuse this beautiful cake with unparalleled flavor.

See recipe card for quantities.

Step by Step Instructions

You don’t need to be a pastry chef. This is the kind of cake that anyone can make. Below, we’ve added process shots along with step-by-step instructions. Please leave us a comment if you have any questions.

Adding salt to dry ingredients.

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Creamed butter and white sugar.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar and mix on high speed for about 3 minutes. If using a stand mixer, place these ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the paddle attachment.

Cracked egg in creamed butter.

3. Beat in eggs on medium speed, one at a time. Do this for a few seconds until combined.

Vanilla extract in creamed butter and sugar.

4. Mix in vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Adding flour mix to wet ingredients.
5. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk.
Adding buttermilk to wet ingredients.
6. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Fig cake batter.
7. This is what your cake batter should look like.
Folding chopped figs into cake batter.
8. After you wash and stem the figs, chop them into small pieces. Fold chopped figs into the cake batter with a rubber spatula.
Fig cake recipe batter in prepared pan.
9. Coat round cake pan with butter and dust with flour. Pour batter into your prepared pan.
Sliced figs arranged over cake batter in prepared pan.
10. Arrange sliced figs (optional) over the cake batter before placing in the oven. Place cake in the center of the oven on the bottom rack. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
Close up of sliced figs.
11. Optional: sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar over the cake before placing in the oven. This will give your cake more of a golden brown color on top.
Baked fig cake recipe.
12. After removing cake from the oven, place it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Using a butter knife, gently run it around the edges to separate the cake from the pan. Serve with a dollop of whipped topping and fresh figs.

Recipe Variations

  • Nutty Twist: Add chopped toasted almonds or walnuts for a delightful crunch and nutty flavor.
  • Citrus Zest: Incorporate citrus such as lemon zest or orange for a refreshing, aromatic twist.
  • Spice It Up: Enhance the flavor of this simple cake with a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • Fig Coffee Cake: Make a streusel topping to sprinkle over the top of the cake before placing it in the oven. Use the streusel mixture of butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, flour, and salt that we used in our pumpkin bread with cream cheese recipe. It makes the perfect crumb topping that coffee cakes are known for.
  • Fig Syrup: Add a drizzle of fig syrup over a slice of cake using our flavorful fig syrup recipe.

Recipe Substitutions

  • Vanilla Extract: Instead of using vanilla extract, you can use almond extract. If you use almond extract, we recommend only using 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Gluten-Free: Use a high-quality gluten-free 1:1 flour blend for a gluten-free version. We recommend one by Bob’s Red Mill. If using a gluten-free flour, you may need to add a bit more liquid to the recipe. Gluten-free flours tend to soak up a lot of the liquids in recipes.
Overhead shot of slice of fig cake on white plate.

Equipment

  • 8-inch Round cake pan or springform pan
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Whisk
  • Hand or stand mixer
  • Spatula

Storage Tips

  • Store leftover fig cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • For longer storage, refrigerate the cake for up to a week.
  • You can also freeze the cake for several months. Wrap it securely in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing.

Top tip

For enhanced fig flavor, macerate the ripe figs in a bit of sugar and lemon juice before folding them into the cake batter.

FAQ

Can I use dried figs instead of fresh figs in a fig cake recipe? 

While fresh figs are a great choice for this recipe, you can use rehydrated dried figs. Soak them in warm water until they plump up, then drain and proceed with the recipe.

Can I reduce the sugar content in the cake?

Yes, you can reduce the sugar if you prefer a less sweet cake. Just be mindful that it may alter the texture slightly.

Conclusion

A fig cake recipe is not just a dessert; it’s a celebration of California’s fig bounty and the culmination of nature’s sweetness. 

When you find yourself surrounded by fresh California figs, whether at your grocery store or local farmers market, seize the opportunity to take them home with you. Enjoy the magic of this splendid fruit with our fig cake recipe that’s worth savoring, one slice at a time.

Looking for other delicious recipes like this? Try these:

Fig Cake Recipe

Need to use up the last of your fig harvest? Use them to make this fresh fig cake. Enjoy nature's candy in this moist and delicious cake!
Print Recipe PIN RECIPE
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 14

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh figs, stemmed and chopped

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar and mix on high speed for about 3 minutes. If using a stand mixer, place these ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the paddle attachment.
  • Beat in eggs on medium speed, one at a time. Do this for a few seconds until combined. Mix in vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  • After you wash and stem the figs, chop them into small pieces. Fold chopped figs into the cake batter with a spatula. Coat round cake pan with butter and dust with flour. Pour batter into your prepared pan.
  • Arrange sliced figs (optional) over the cake batter before placing in the oven. Place cake in the center of the oven on the bottom rack. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
  • Additionally, you can sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar over the cake before placing in the oven. This will give your cake more of a golden brown color on top.
  • After removing cake from the oven, place it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Using a butter knife, gently run it around the edges to separate the cake from the pan. Serve with a dollop of whipped topping and fresh figs.

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